This past Saturday my buddy Sasha and I stopped by the local gun range that sells weapons to look for .22 rifles. He wanted another semi-auto assault rifle but I’ve always wanted to add a bolt-action rifle of some caliber to my armory. I figured since it’s useless to buy a bigger caliber to shoot a measly 200 yards I might as well go with a smaller .22 and end up saving money on ammo further down the road. 20 rounds of 5.56 ammo costs around $9 per box, and I have on previous occasions easily gone through 200 rounds of 5.56 in a single day at the range, which means $90-$100 of ammo. Meanwhile 200 rounds of .22 gets me barely halfway through a box of 500 rounds that cost me under $30. See what I’m getting at? With a .22 rifle I could split my attention, and thus my ammo consumption, during my range visits. Well it turns out that pretty much all caliber of assault rifles are back ordered all to shit with so much craziness going on about possible gun bans, so Sasha was out of luck. But I spotted a pretty nifty-looking bolt-action with a scope already mounted and checked it out. It turned out to be a CZ rifle, designed in the Czech Republic, and had a 3-9×32 Simmons optic that was crystal clear. I bought it right then and there but had to wait until Tuesday night for my background check to finally come back clean since there was so much demand things were back logged. In comparison, when I bought my assault rifle back in November all it took was a 5-minute phone call. Here’s what the range looks like these days – bare gun racks and piles of sold weapons (mine is the second from the top on the far right):
And yea, I said previously I was going to just buy a new .22 upper for my AR-15 rather than buy a whole new gun but this .22 was only $300 all told which is actually cheaper than the well-made .22 AR uppers and those are, you guessed it, back ordered half a year or more. Screw that!
So it was too late to get it Tuesday night but that was okay since Wednesday was shaping up to be a halfway-decent day to visit the outdoor range, with non-freezing temperatures and only moderate winds. The range is open 1-8pm on Wednesdays and I got there around 3:30, when temperatures peaked at 40°F and the wind was just starting its gradual decline to single-digit numbers although at that time it was still 10-15mph. Mostly down-range from my back but also blowing slightly cross-range quite often. I set up the target at 50 yards as I figured that was where the scope would probably be zeroed at, and got behind the weapon – prone position of course. I noticed right away the eye relief on the scope was a bit off, but it was just because the stock was longer than I was used to when handling the AR-15 so I forced myself to adopt a new position with the rifle and things worked out fine. I loaded the 5-round mag and slid the bolt forward, locking it down. Sighting in on the center of the target, I squeezed off a round. The trigger pull was silky smooth and the rifle made a satisfied POP! Recoil was negligible and I held my sight picture as I popped up the bolt lever, racked it back, then forward again and locked it down, chambering a new round. I can’t really explain it, but working the action on a bolt-action rifle just feels bad ass, even if it’s only a .22 caliber. I put two mags down range, one aimed at the 10 and another at the 9. Satisfied with my groupings at that the scope was indeed dialed in to 50 yards I dropped my cross hairs down to the 5 clay pigeons I had spread out on the ground, adjusted for wind by offsetting the cross hairs, and popped all 5 in a row. Well god damn.
Satisfied with the performance at 50 yards it was time to push out to 100. One of the big differences between this range trip and previous ones was a friend was able to join me today, which means I had a spotter. Now, I knew things would be better with a spotter but they were beyond better. It was awesome being able to know where every shot is going and adjust accordingly. Otherwise, I would shoot 3-round groups before adjusting, or shoot, check, shoot, check – each time having to get up from the weapon to look through the spotting scope. Now, with Bobby calling out my shots, I was able to stay on the weapon and adjust after each round. After we set the target up at 100 yards I got behind the weapon and aimed for the center of the target, telling Bobby to ignore my windage and tell me my elevation. I expected bullet drop but I actually shot about half a foot below the paper on my first shot! Gradually I walked the shots upwards, adjusting my scope elevation until I was on paper teasing around the bulls-eye level. Dialed in at last, I dropped my sights down and, this time adjusting my aim for windage, emptied a clip at the 5 clay pigeons lying on the ground, hitting 3 of them. Not too shabby.
We were having a ton of fun with the .22 but it was starting to get late – and cold – so I pulled out the Mossberg 5.56 and we got to work laying down the BOOM! at 100 yards. My scope for the AR-15 is actually less-powerful than what I have on my .22 – it’s only a 3-6x – so the target at 100 yards is smaller and more difficult to hit. Again, wind was the big culprit in taking my shots all over the paper but I did keep pretty much everything on paper at least. Established on paper, it was time to see if I could take out any of the clay pigeons laid out on the ground. I managed to blow away two, although I can’t remember how many rounds it took me. I think the first went with the first clip and the second with the third. After that both Bobby and I sent about 30 rounds down range trying to nail the third, and the little fucker just would. not. die. Looking through the spotting scope we could see the rounds kick up dirt all around the clay, and I even witnessed tall grass behind the pigeon get cut by the bullet whizzing overhead! The scope on my AR-15 has what’s called a mil-dot cross hair in the reticule (my .22 scope has a duplex) – see that first line of elevation above the center? If you put that on the top of the clay you would tend to shoot high. If you put it towards the bottom of the clay you would tend to shoot low. That little space between the line and the center was how fine a needle we were trying to thread.
We never got the little bastard. Here he is, laughing at us:
Note the metal stakes in the ground to the left and right – I grabbed these from the garage today because I was tired of using dirt to prop up the pigeons and having them mostly just fall over. These worked great at supporting the clays on the ground, even with the wind blowing around.
Bobby also has some guns, a Ruger pistol and a revolver, both .22 as well as a double-barrel shotgun – I didn’t think to ask what gauge. He set up a target at 25 yards and was popping several rounds down range when I decided to have a try myself, so I grabbed up my P22 and called out that I was aiming for the 1 and 3 on the left side of the target since he was going for the right side numbers. I aimed and squeezed off 10 rounds, emptying my clip. I then went over to the spotting scope and trained it on the target and burst out laughing. Sadly, despite my 10 rounds and however many Bobby had sent down (had to have been at least a dozen) there was exactly 1 hole in the entire target, which as you can see below is not small. Wow, hahaha. Epic fail. I mean sure, you generally shoot pistols at 25-50 feet, let alone 25 yards… but still! So that’s when Bobby broke out the shotgun and put plenty of holes in that target! He also managed to get some 9mm holes on there with my P99.
So it was another great trip to the range, made better with company this time around. Hope to bring out some more friends next time, and hope next time is soon but realistically probably will not be until closer to the end of the month thanks to the weather. I’m still looking at a new optic for my AR-15 so I can start punching out to 200 yards. I saw one or two people shooting at 200 today and didn’t think to go over and ask them what kind of scope they were using. Right now I’m looking at either a Nikon or a Leupold and will probably go with the Leupold but like having a good alternate to compare to.